Iwakiri Yuriko & Amy Newland
Enjoying a career spanning almost fifty years, from the 1810s to his death in 1861, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) was instrumental in establishing warrior prints as one of the major genres in the history of Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). His most spectacular triptychs of warriors resonate even in contemporary culture, their influence reflected in modern graphic media such as manga. This publication demonstrates that Kuniyoshi’s artistic genius also extended to the creation of striking prints in other genres: images of beautiful women and kabuki actors, ghosts, demons and monsters, anthropomorphic renditions of animals illustrating everyday life, as well as compositions replete with humour and often involving witty wordplay. Examples of Kuniyoshi’s work also reveal the artist’s dialogue with aspects of European pictorial traditions in his experimentation with shading and perspective. The selection of prints in Kuniyoshi: Japanese master of imagined worlds includes representative pieces of the highest quality, a number of which are illustrated for the first time outside Japan. Descriptive texts accompany the 136 prints in the publication and these are introduced by an in-depth discussion of Kuniyoshi’s life and his art.